Special Terrine of Rabbit with Prunes

There is a small, unpretentious restaurant in the unfashionable Twelfth Arrondissement of Paris called Chez Marcel where they specialise in terrines, pâté and saucissons of every kind It is a plain ‘serious eaters’ restaurant – my favourite kind of place – where all the clientele talk enthusiastically about food as they eat. Immediately you are settled at your table about ten different kinds of terrine and pâté are put in front of you, all of which you are supposed to try. This terrine is inspired by the one I enjoyed most at Chez Marcel the evening we went there. The only criticism I have of French terrines is that sometimes they do not seem to be flavoured strongly enough and are too bland for their richness. This rabbit, pork and veal terrine is very fully flavoured and I think, delicious. You must start to prepare it at least two days in advance but it is very satisfying to make and once it is made will keep for about two weeks in the fridge. You can serve it as a first course with hot toast, or as a main course with new or jacket potatoes and a mixed salad, and of course it is perfect for a party as it looks so beautiful, and feeds many.

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Ingredients

  • 6 oz Californian prunes – soaked overnight in about 2 glasses of red wine (175 g)
  • 2 lb leg of rabbit or lb boneless rabbit (900 or 700 g) – you can buy boned rabbit in frozen blocks at Sainsbury’s; it is called boneless Chinese rabbit and is most useful for casseroles etc.
  • 1 lb belly of pork (450 g)
  • ½ lb stewing veal (225 g)
  • ¾ lb smoked streaky bacon – thinly sliced with rind removed (350 g)
  • 3–4 whole juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon sage – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oregano or marjoram
  • powdered maceFox’s herbs and spices do this and probably others, it is useful to have for adding to cakes and puddings as well as for savoury dishes
  • salt, pepper

For the Marinade

  • about ½ wineglass brandy
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 10–15 juniper berries – crushed
  • about 8 peppercorns
  • about 4 bayleaves
  • 10–15 whole allspice – crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method

Cut the flesh off the rabbit bones and chop into fairly small pieces. Put in a shallow pan with all the marinade ingredients and turn the rabbit well in the liquid. Cover and leave in a cool place for about 8 hours or overnight, stir the rabbit in the liquid once or twice during the marinating. Cut the rind off the belly of pork and put both the pork and the veal through the coarse blade of a mincer or cut up finely if you have no mincer. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Grease a 2-pint (1-litre) earthenware dish. Remove the bayleaves from the marinade and arrange them on the bottom of the dish in a pattern with 3 or 4 whole juniper berries. Lay the bacon neatly in strips on the bottom and sides of the dish, reserving enough to put on top of the terrine. Remove the stones from the soaked prunes with your fingers. Now proceed in layers; first a layer of rabbit, then a sprinkling of herbs and mace, then a few prunes, then a layer of pork and veal, then the herbs and mace again, then prunes, then rabbit and so on until all is used up. Pour over any left over marinating juices. Lay 2 bay leaves on the top and then the remaining strips of bacon. Cover with greased foil and then a lid and put the dish in a pan of water in the oven at Gas 3 (325°F/160°C) for 1½–2 hours or until a skewer stuck in the centre comes out clean. Cool for half an hour. It will smell delicious. Put a board on top of the foil (some juice will spill over when you do this, try to reserve it as it will turn into jelly to glaze the top when you finally turn the terrine out) and then some weights or books. Leave it weighted down for several hours or overnight if you can. Chill it in the fridge and then turn it out on to a serving dish. The easiest way to do this I have found is to dip the dish in very hot water in the sink – the water should just come up to the top of the dish – for about 1 minute or until the terrine plops out when you turn it upside down and give it a good shake. Now it should look a triumph and you will feel very pleased and clever. To perfect it slightly melt the reserved jelly juice if you have it and brush the top of the terrine with it, the sides should still have jelly sticking to them unless you left the dish in the hot water for too long. Return to the fridge until you serve it.

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